Clean Energy

The warnings come with unsettling regularity:

Climate change threatens 1 million plant and animal species.

Warmer oceans could lose one-sixth of their fish and other marine life by the end of the century.

The former owners and the company that developed a biomass power plant in Colorado have agreed to pay $2.6 million to the federal government to resolve fraud allegations.

The Vail Daily reports U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn announced the settlement Tuesday following allegations that Eagle Valley Clean Energy LLC violated the federal False Claims Act.

President Trump just dismantled policies requiring federal agencies reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions and meet other environmental targets.

With The Cloud Ever More Energy Hungry, Tech Giants Want To Tap Straight Into Renewables

Jun 9, 2016
Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Media

The cloud, where you upload photos and stream video, is actually real, physical infrastructure housed in data centers across the country, like Green House Data's server farm in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

"This is the cloud," said Art Salazar, the company's director of operations, waving at rows and rows of glass and metal cabinets. "You're standing right in front of the cloud."

Feeding those hungry computers are big, black power lines, snaking along the ceiling. Like most data centers, electricity is the company's biggest expense, which is why Green House Data is obsessed with energy efficiency – and why companies want to get green power right at the source.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

The costs of wind and solar power have fallen dramatically in recent years. Still, renewables only account for a fraction of the energy produced in the United States.

That's one of the challenges facing the new director of the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colorado. Dr. Martin Keller, who took over following the retirement of Dan Arvizu in late 2015, describes NREL's mission -- acting as the nation's premier renewable energy research laboratory -- as one of filling in the gaps in science and technology.

U.S. Department of Energy

For the first time ever, Denver will host an international solar home building competition run by the U.S. Department of Energy. The 2017 Solar Decathlon will bring teams from 16 universities to show off model homes and compete for $2 million in prize money.

“Denver and the Colorado community really has demonstrated a leadership role in advancing clean energy technology,” said Jennifer Garson who directs DOE's Solar Decathlon.

Colstrip, Mont., is true to its name — it exists because of coal.

"Our coal's getting deeper, like everywhere else, because everybody's mining. They're getting into the deeper stuff," says Kevin Murphy, who has worked in the Rosebud Mine for 15 years running a bulldozer in the open pits.

Everything about the mine is enormous, especially the dragline, a machine as big as a ship with a giant boom that extends 300 feet up into the air. The dragline perches on the lip of the pit, scraping away hundreds of feet of rocky soil to reveal the black seam of coal below.

White House / YouTube

Speaking at the White House Monday, President Obama released the final version of the nation's Clean Power Plan. It calls for big cuts of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide, but allows each state to meet those reductions in its own way.

Some states have already taken steps to reduce their emissions, and Colorado, with a fairly aggressive renewable energy standard, is ahead of the game, say most experts.

"It seems to me that Colorado is already largely on a path that will meet or come close to the requirements of the Clean Power Plan," said Paul Komor, Energy Education Director at the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute at the University of Colorado Boulder.

John De La Rosa / National Renewable Energy Laboratory

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld Colorado’s renewable energy standard, a decision that has renewable energy advocates cheering.

The decision in Energy and Environment Legal Institute v. Epel is also encouraging news for other states with renewable energy standards, said environmental advocates. A number of lawsuits have been filed that challenge state-level renewable energy standards, but this is the first to be decided, said Erin Overturf, an attorney with Western Resource Advocates who worked on the case.

Fort Collins is one of six communities featured in a new exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Places of Invention explores the idea of how location can shape innovation, examining cities where a mix of resources, inventive people, and an inspiring environment have caused invention to flourish.

Defining a "place of invention" is a challenge, according to Joyce Bedi, Senior Historian with the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center, which has been studying the idea of invention for two decades.